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FM holds bilateral talks with SAARC counterparts

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama held bilateral discussions with his SAARC colleagues from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan, in Colombo to attend the 15th SAARC Summit.

The Foreign Affairs Adviser of Bangladesh, Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury was the first Minister to call on Minister Bogollagama at the Republic Building of the Foreign Ministry.

Reviewing bilateral relations, he referred to the recent inauguration of direct air links between Dhaka and Colombo by a Bangladeshi private airline, “Best Airways” as a tangible manifestation of the SAARC objective of promoting connectivity among member states.

Minister Bogollagama quipped that the twice weekly air service is the “best thing” that has happened recently in bringing the peoples of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh closer together.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister thanked his Bangladesh counterpart for the generous donation of the Sacred Hair Relics of the Buddha, as a symbol of lasting friendship between the two countries.

During the call by the Foreign Minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering on Minister Bogollagama, he congratulated Bhutan on the successful transition to a parliamentary democracy.

Foreign Minister Tshering remarked that his visit to Sri Lanka was the first ever visit by a ministerial delegation abroad after the recent parliamentary elections.

The Bhutanese Foreign Minister briefed Minister Bogollagama on the vast hydro power potential available in Bhutan and plans to increase the electricity generating capacity from the present 1,400 MW to 10,000 MW in the next few years, which would enable Bhutan to export its surplus power to neighbouring SAARC countries.

Thereafter, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on Foreign Minister Bogollagama, and said that he was on his first ever visit to Sri Lanka, a country that was very close to the people of Pakistan.

He also expressed Pakistan’s steadfast commitment and support for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Minister Bogollagama thanked Pakistan for the unflinching support and assistance given to Sri Lanka at all times in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its fight against terrorism. Given the closeness of the political ties between the two countries, he underscored the need for greater economic cooperation.

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